Only 5 Nations Can Hit Any Place on Earth With a Missile. For Now.

North Korea has drastically increased the range of its missiles. In tests last year, the nation showed that it could probably strike the United States.

North Korea is among a number of countries that have been working to improve the accuracy and range of their missiles.

“We believe we’re entering a missile renaissance,” said Ian Williams, an associate director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has been compiling data on missile programs in different countries.

A growing number of countries with ready access to missiles increases regional tensions and makes war more likely, Mr. Williams said. Countries are more apt to use their arsenals if they think their missiles could be targeted.

In addition, many of the missiles being developed by these countries are based on obsolete technologies, which makes them less accurate, increasing the risk to civilians. And there is a risk that missiles could fall into the hands of militias and terrorist groups.

Many of the countries that have heavily invested in missiles over the last two decades are in well-known hotspots in Asia and the Middle East.

Countries investing in missiles are often trying to deter regional adversaries. But the effects of this arms race ripple across the globe.

North Korea is an example of the danger. Estimates of the country’s maximum missile range went from 745 miles in 1990 to more than 8,000 miles now. That’s enough to strike about half of the world, including the United States mainland. (During the same period, South Korea gained the ability to strike anywhere in North Korea.)

Read more at the New York Times.